Other noteworthy challenges and successes in 2016 made way for the future. We are proud Santee Cooper’s power costs are significantly below the national average and our reliability remains solid. In 2016, transmission reliability was 99.9976 percent, distribution reliability was 99.9955 percent and the generation availability factor was 90.18 percent.

We reclaimed 621,678 tons of ash for beneficial use from ash ponds at Winyah, Jefferies and Grainger generating stations. The demolition of Grainger Generating Station marked the end of an era when its two 300-foot stacks tumbled to the ground on Feb. 6. The coal-fired station was retired as part of the utility’s move to a more diverse mix of generating resources, including additional renewable resources and nuclear generation.

VC Summer With partner South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), we reached assembly and contract milestones in the construction of Units 2 and 3 at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. In June, the Board of Directors authorized executives to proceed with securing an option that substantially fixes the costs to complete the two units at V.C. Summer, which should give greater cost and schedule certainty to customers.

Nuclear power is virtually emissions-free. These units are critical as we continue to move to a more diverse mix of generation and an uncertain regulatory future. We remain in close contact with Toshiba and its subsidiary Westinghouse on the progress of the new units and on Toshiba’s financial situation. The contractor remains committed to the project, as do Santee Cooper and SCE&G.
 
Santee Cooper’s exceeded our Reduce The Use 2016 energy savings goal of 18.3 gigawatt hours (GWh) by achieving 28.1 GWh of energy savings through commercial and residential programs.

We also had the largest, most successful Mini-Bond sale in Santee Cooper history, totaling more than $42 million. Mini-Bonds give investors an easy, unique way to enhance portfolios and help Santee Cooper fulfill our responsibility to provide South Carolina with low-cost, reliable and environmentally protective electricity.

Bond rating agencies and large investors continue to regard Santee Cooper favorably. We had successful bond sales in 2016 totaling $1.5 billion, primarily to help finance Santee Cooper's share of costs to build two nuclear power units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, and to restructure or refund a portion of existing debt. A portion of the bonds sold were economic refunding bonds. We also began capitalizing more of the interest associated with the nuclear project, to spread costs better across the life of the nuclear units we are building while managing near- and long-term costs to our customers.
Minibonds
solar share

In 2016, we partnered with Western Union to provide 1,300 new locations in South Carolina alone for customers to pay their bills and we focused our resources on our busiest retail offices, closing two that were used with less frequency.

We’re working to make solar easy and affordable for our customers. On March 21, our Board of Directors approved the state’s first community solar project and new rebate-focused solar programs.

We will be reviewing rebates and subscription prices for our solar programs each year to help encourage the use of this renewable energy source.

To help our schoolchildren get hands-on experience, we partner with the electric cooperatives and our municipal customers to bring solar arrays to middle schools across the state. In 2016, the Bamberg Department of Public Works and Santee Cooper dedicated the 28th Solar School at Richard Carroll Elementary School.
Santee Cooper again teamed up with Palmetto Electric Cooperative to power the RBC Heritage with Green Power for the 8th year in a row and joined Pee Dee Electric Cooperative to fuel Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 weekend with Green Power. Both were great ways to celebrate the 15th anniversary of placing Green Power on the grid.

For years, Santee Cooper worked jointly with the electric cooperatives on economic development initiatives. We offer tools including loans, grants and attractive incentive rates. Those programs assist with items like infrastructure and construction of speculative buildings in Santee Cooper, cooperative and municipal customers’ territories. Collectively, efforts in 2016 allowed Santee Cooper and electric cooperatives power system to add 43 location announcements, $830.6 million in capital investment and 5,006 new jobs. We will continue to work with the electric cooperatives in the future to build brighter tomorrows for all South Carolinians.
VIVA Plant
State Employees Protection of physical and cyber assets is another major focus. Hackers are getting more sophisticated. Electric utilities are primary targets and we will continue working with peer utilities and security experts to keep abreast of new threats and develop new tools to protect our assets.

Lastly, Santee Cooper remains committed to developing our employees, both for their own advancement and so that we can continue to build brighter tomorrows by serving South Carolina with affordable and reliable electricity, environmental stewardship, economic development and excellent customer service.